Could natural foods have an impact on cognitive capacity? Most specifically, could curry alleviate Alzheimer’s disease? There are numerous spices in various curry dishes, but turmeric is a constant. Scientists have been studying this fascinating product and its active ingredients, the curcuminoids. What have they learned?
Could Curry Alleviate Alzheimer’s Disease?
Q. I have seen several articles about turmeric in curry and the low rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India. I’m wondering if there is something about turmeric that could protect people from dementia. Could its antiviral properties have a beneficial impact?
A. Turmeric is a distinctive yellow spice that is the basis for most curry powder. As you note, it is extremely popular in India.
Some researchers suggest that
“The lower rates of AD [Alzheimer’s disease] in the Indian population has also been attributed to the extensive consumption of turmeric, hinting at the neuroprotective role of turmeric” (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports, Oct. 16, 2019).
One of the proposed mechanisms for turmeric’s brain-protecting properties is its anti-inflammatory activity. This spice has other possible benefits, though.
Turmeric Protects Rat Brains from Aluminum:
Researchers use aluminum to mimic Alzheimer’s disease in animal models. A study found that turmeric could help protect rat brains against aluminum-induced deterioration (Molecules, May 18, 2021). While that is not a perfect model for human Alzheimer’s disease, scientists believe that it is illuminating.
Learn More about How Could Curry Alleviate Alzheimer’s:
If you are interested in other natural approaches to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, you may wish to listen to our interview with Dr. Dale Bredesen. Show 1214: How to Defend Your Brain During the Pandemic and Beyond is available for free at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com under the Podcasts tab.
A Reader Shares a Personal Story:
Q. Ten years ago, I lost much of my cognitive ability. An MRI showed that my brain had shrunk radically, and I couldn’t answer most of the questions my family doctor and a neurologist asked me. I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
We moved and I began seeing a new doctor who prescribed Razadyne (galantamine). She cautioned that no drug could stop the progress of the disease but that the Razadyne might help a little. It helped enough that I was able to search the internet.
I discovered that turmeric (found in curry powder) seems to be active against Alzheimer’s disease, since the incidence in India is lower than in the U.S. I started taking 1600 mg/day of turmeric with my meals and continued taking the Razadyne. When it began to upset my stomach, I started mixing curry powder into chicken salad at least three times a week.
Because I have recovered my abilities so well, my doctors now doubt I ever had Alzheimer’s disease. I believe that I had and perhaps still have Alzheimer’s disease, but my treatments (turmeric and Razadyne) are working. I hope my story helps others avoid the ravages of this condition.
A. Your story is remarkable. We don’t know, however, if anyone else would benefit in the same way. The fact that curcumin from turmeric reduces beta-amyloid plaque formation is very promising (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2018).
We are not aware of any human studies that demonstrate improvement in symptoms or activities of daily living. Until well-conducted clinical trials reveal that curry can alleviate Alzheimer’s disease, we won’t promise anything. However, scientists think that turmeric is worth studying as a way to prevent or treat a number of neurological diseases (Biofactors, Sep. 2019).
Caution With Curcumin:
We have received reports from some people taking turmeric (or its active ingredient curcumin) as an anti-inflammatory agent that it may interact dangerously with Coumadin (warfarin) and increase the risk of bleeding.
Since turmeric is a common spice used in cooking, we don’t see any problem incorporating it into meals several times a week for people who are not taking this anticoagulant. Whether or not curry alleviates Alzheimer’s disease, it has numerous health benefits.